1 - Research the Vehicle’s History
A history report from CARFAX provides useful information on:
- Reported collisions/incidents
- Existing liens
- Past odometer readings
- Out-of-province registration information
- Theft recovery
- Ministry of Transportation branding information (e.g., salvage, irreparable, rebuilt, none)
By law, private vehicle sellers must provide the purchaser with a Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP).
UVIPs often include:
- Current registered owner and vehicle ownership history in Ontario
- Lien information
- Past odometer readings
- Estimated fair market value of vehicle (if available)
Carefully review the UVIP to ensure all pages are included.
UVIPs are available from Service Ontario locations and online: ontario.ca/driving-and-roads/used-vehicle-information-package.
In order to obtain a UVIP or history report, the vehicle identification number (VIN) is required.
2 - Know Who You’re Buying From
Curbsiders often sell vehicles that are not registered in their name. It’s important to ensure you’re dealing with the registered owner:
- Be bold. Always ask the seller for ID and compare it to the vehicle ownership: they must match
- Curbsiders may make excuses if they don’t match, so be extra vigilant if the vehicle is not registered in the seller’s name or has only been registered in their name for a short period of time
3 - Beware of Vehicles Priced Below Market Value
In order to sell vehicles as quickly and easily as possible, curbsiders may offer a “too good to be true” price. They can do this because the vehicles are often odometer-tampered or undisclosed rebuilt write-offs. No one sells vehicles for less than they are worth. If a deal seems too good to be true, that’s a warning, not an opportunity.
Online resources may help determine vehicle values/prices:
Member-based consumer groups also provide vehicle pricing information. These include:
4 - Get a Second Opinion
Even if you get maintenance records from the seller, have the vehicle inspected by a licensed mechanic – one you trust. A mechanic may find problems the seller did not disclose or know about.
If the seller resists, walk away.
Can’t find a good mechanic? There are lists of pre-screened mechanics, repair shops and appraisers available from the APA and Car Help Canada.
5 - Turn On Your Creepometer
Curbsiders are so good at disguising themselves that it can be hard to spot them. Use OMVIC's Creepometer tool to help reveal creepy activity.